Bill Moyers – Charlie Rose 07-07-13

Salient to Investors:

Bill Moyers said:

  • The crisis of millions of working families falling into poverty is the defining story in the US in the last 30 years. The social contract has been shredded in the last 30 years.
  • The belief that if you work hard and play by the rules you will get ahead in America is no longer true. 22 million Americans who are seeking jobs can’t find permanent work, while 49 million are on food stamps.
  • Madison warned against the oligarchy of a nation with people at the very top and people at the very bottom and no stabilizer in the center.
  • If we don’t address the issue of inequality we will end up with a two-tier society with 1% doing well and the other 99% struggling. All the productivity gains have gone to the top while the wages for the working people have stagnated: that used to be a temporary problem but is no longer the case. The percentage of GDP going to the working class has been sliding for 10 years.
  • Losing faith in a middle class leads to people losing faith in the political process, and a feeling they have no representation in government.
  • The crisis is the result in large part of engineered inequality – a series of political decisions over the last 30 years, the chief one of which being the owners of capital businesses and corporations deciding to change the rules to benefit themselves including driving wages down, a crusade to diminish the cost of labor, the elimination of collective bargaining, along with legalized graft in Congress, tax changes.
  • The policies from both parties benefited those at the top at the expense of everyone else.
  • It will take a long time to reverse the decline, but it must be done or else democracy itself is at risk from a permanent underclass with no future. The Urban Institute said people under 30 are not doing as well as the generation that went before them.
  • Good people go to Washington but they have to raise a lot of money to get elected. The Sun Foundation found that a third of the money given to campaigns in 2012 came from just 138,000 people.
  • The US has lost its sense of collective responsibility, with both parties serving powerful financial interests. Their monopoly is not just of capital but of politics.
  • While profits are at a record, the share of GDP going to wages is at a record low.
  • The US should raise the minimum wage to $15, despite the always present argument of cheaper labor abroad because it is not a perfect equilibrium. Wages must be sufficient to raise  a family and buy the goods we produce.
  • There has to be a sustained uprising by people taking risks, just as our founding fathers did when they risked everything.
  • When attributing the blame for poverty, never underestimate the power of learned helplessness.
  • Some of our financial elite are hopeless in that they live for more and more and more, but our financial class needs to respond not with charity but with justice.
  • All governments lie including our own.
  • What matters is not how close to power you are, but how close you are to the truth. Power tempts everybody but doesn’t corrupt per se. Power shifts your perspective from what is right or wrong to what is necessary and when you start to think about what is necessary you change your system of reasoning and sacrifice some of your personal values – a danger to government and corporations and Wall Street leadership.
  • My fundamental  conclusion is that life is a lottery, and so I do not buy the philosophy that people are self-made – we don’t choose our success or failure. A just society takes that into consideration and says that people who don’t win the lottery should not be cast off on a desert island or condemned to hell.
  • Because life is a lottery, we have an obligation to each other to create a society where the lottery is determinant but not decisive in the quality of our lives, and that a society that wants to be just and fair must work to balance the unintended consequences of the lottery.

Charlie Rose said everyone knows there is something wrong and not enough people are committed to change – we need to redistribute the wealth in America.

Watch the full video at http://www.charlierose.com/watch/60238315

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